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December 17, 2007

Gov. Blagojevich announces partnership to help residents restore heat during the winter months
Good Samaritan initiative allows affordable reconnections for those without utility service

CHICAGO – As part of his Keep Warm Illinois campaign, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the start of the Good Samaritan Initiative for the 2007-2008 winter season. The initiative provides more affordable reconnection terms to Low Income Heat and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) recipients who have had their utility services disconnected.  Nicor Gas, Peoples Energy and Ameren have agreed to again participate for the fifth straight year.
“It takes the work of an entire community to ensure our citizens stay warm and safe each winter. The Good Samaritan initiative helps people get through some tough financial barriers so they can heat their homes during the coldest months of the year,” said Governor Blagojevich. “I want to thank Nicor Gas, Peoples Energy and Ameren for joining us in this year’s Good Samaritan Initiative. Together, we can make sure that our most vulnerable families, especially children and the elderly, stay safe this winter.”
The Good Samaritan Initiative will help disconnected low-income customers by reducing the amount that the utility companies require to restore service. LIHEAP beneficiaries, whose outstanding balances are too high to be covered by a grant alone but less than $3,000, will need to pay only $250 or 20 percent of the remaining balance, whichever is less, to have their service restored. Customers must also set up payment plans with their utilities for the remainder of their balance.
“The public-private partnership behind the Good Samaritan Initiative is just one example of how the Keep Warm Illinois campaign continues to work in innovative ways to keep families and individuals safe this winter season,” said Barry Maram, director of Healthcare and Family Services, which administers the LIHEAP program. “Under Governor Blagojevich’s leadership, Keep Warm Illinois has continued to provide the needed support for families and individuals that should not have to face severe financial difficulties as they try to heat their homes.”
Citizens can also contribute to the Good Samaritan Trust Fund. The fund, which was established by law in 2003, allows Illinois residents and businesses to voluntarily contribute money toward the heating bills of low-income families. Contributions will benefit low-income residents of the county from which funds were donated. Donations are tax-deductible. To contribute to the Good Samaritan Energy Trust Fund, send donations to: Good Samaritan Trust Fund, P.O. Box 19154, Springfield, IL 62794.
For information on energy assistance or conservation tips, families can call the Keep Warm Illinois hotline at 1-877-411-WARM or visit www.keepwarm.illinois.gov.
LIHEAP is a state- and federally-funded energy assistance program that aids households with incomes of up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level. A single person household can qualify with a monthly income of up to $1,276, a two-person household up to $1,711 and a family of four can earn up to $2,581. LIHEAP energy grant applications are processed through a network of 35 Local Administering Agencies around the state. The winter heating program is expected to serve 300,000 households this winter with an estimated $150 million in state and federal funding.
For a complete listing of LIHEAP’s local administering agencies and additional information about the grant program, go to www.liheapillinois.com, or call the toll-free Keep Warm Illinois hotline at 1-877-411-WARM.
Governor Blagojevich launched the Keep Warm Illinois campaign and website in October to help all Illinoisans stay warm, healthy and safe this winter. The Keep Warm Illinois campaign brings state agencies together to coordinate efforts in preparing communities across the state for high home heating costs. The Keep Warm Illinois website (www.keepwarm.illinois.gov) offers various no-cost and low-cost energy saving tips, a web-based tool to conduct a home energy audit, links to energy assistance programs and other resources. In addition, the Keep Warm Illinois hotline (1-877-411-WARM) is another resource for Illinois residents to learn how to save energy and get energy assistance.  


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